I woke up crying three times in a row this morning. For someone who hasn’t cried in several years, this is unusual. I’m still not sure if I was crying only in the dream.
It was the same dream, the recurring one where he’s not dead and no one understands how he miraculously survived the accident, and he doesn’t understand why everyone thought he died. He never speaks. I’m the only one talking, asking him how he’s still alive.
Sometimes I yell and scream at him for changing everyone’s lives. He never speaks.
I remember in the first dream, we were with our parents and my kids, and it was Christmas, and then I woke up and instead of getting up to do everything I had set out to do, I went back to sleep as fast as I could so I could see him again. It is the only time I can.
Then in the second dream, he was there again but the rest of my family was telling me he was a figment of my imagination; he’d really been dead the whole time.
In the third dream we were kids and we were annoying each other at home, turning off one another’s tape players.
He’s been gone almost 14 years.
If you have ever asked anyone if your grief reactions are normal, I already know they are.
At the first cemetery where I worked, there was a man who had been going to his wife’s grave twice a day for five years. He’d show up in the morning before work and again on his way home, and talk to his wife for a while. His behavior was totally normal.
There was also a woman who had infant twins buried there and she came once a year to place fresh flowers, then left immediately. She was also normal.
Normal people keep their deceased child’s room exactly as they left it, perhaps dusting and cleaning every week, perhaps just sitting at their desk or reading their books. Other normal people pack up and move after their child dies, giving away all her possessions.
Some normal people never remarry after a spouse dies. Some remarry within a year.
In any cemetery you can find the weathered headstones and neglected graves left alone by normal families who just don’t get to the cemetery that often, sometimes next to the immaculately manicured plots and polished marble slabs visited regularly by other normal families.
Normalcy cannot be measured in how long you cry, how often you visit the grave, or how soon you go back to work. Normalcy is only about how you assimilate the loss into your life, as a permanent, unwanted, irreversible change, and what is normal for you may not be normal for another.
I have seen thousands of sad people, but never one who was abnormally so.
I just wish he would speak.